Web Summit deal over pints led to $18bn Uber start-up

How ride-sharing app Uber secured a $26.5 million investment at the Web Summit

Over a pint in Bruxelles pub on Dublin's Harry Street, investor Shervin Pishevar won over American entrepreneur Travis Kalanick.

Later that night, in the Shelbourne Hotel, Pishevar signed a deal to invest $26.5 million in Kalanick's ride-sharing start- up Uber.

That meeting took place during the Web Summit in 2011, when Uber was in just three cities – fast forward three years and the company has a presence in more than 230 cities worldwide, as well as a staggering $18 billion dollar valuation.

“I was a rookie VC. I believed in this company called Uber and was chasing them to invest. One day a call came through asking was I going to Dublin for the Web Summit and would I meet him (Travis) there.”

Pishevar and Kalanick had a pint in Bruxelles pub and then walked the streets of Dublin discussing the start-up.

“We closed the deal in the Shelbourne Hotel. We printed out the term sheets in the Shelbourne’s business centre and both signed them. It has turned into one of the most important investments of my life”.

Pishevar says then managing director of Goldman Sachs Scott Stanford was also in Dublin for Web Summit and chasing a deal with Uber.

“He went jogging with Travis around St Stephen’s Green. It was the day after I had signed the term sheet for Uber. He was also trying to invest.”

The next year, Pishevar returned to the Web Summit, and met with Stanford.

“ Scott and I got a private car and we drove to this tiny village in the west of Ireland. On this journey we realised we got on really well. We started Sherpa Ventures together after.”

Pishevar, attending his fourth Web Summit this week, says that it was in this village, that he realised the massive potential for apps such as Uber.

“I had an epiphany that the village economy was coming back. People wanted to trust people because of reputation and ratings.”

This week, Pishevar will join more than 700 other investors as this year’s edition of the Web Summit kicks off at the RDS tomorrow.With more than 2,000 start-ups from 85 countries hoping to impress the investors, there will be keen competition for the sort of life-changing investment that Pishevar made in Uber. Sometimes referred to as “Davos for geeks”, the sold-out conference attracted record numbers this year with 20,000 people set to descend on the RDS for three days of pitching, talks, food and more.

If he hadn’t flown to Ireland, Pishevar says he wouldn’t have won the investment, which he calls “transformational”.

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